Escanaba seeking funds to continue dark store battle

The city of Escanaba is seeking financial assistance in its legal battle against dark stores, or active big box retail properties that are assessed as if they stand completely empty and vacant.

According to Escanaba City Manager Patrick Jordan, costs have been significant to date with the city spending about $250,000 of its own money on past court battles.

He said the city hopes to obtain $200,000 in contributions, as it will need about $400,000 to hire expert witnesses for a hearing in the Escanaba v. Menards case.

The Michigan Department of Treasury will provide a matching donation of up to $200,000 for the fight. To date, around $171,000 has been raised, a Mining Journal story on the issue, stated.

Marquette County, which, by itself, has lost in the neighborhood of $500,000 because of the dark store ruling, donated $10,000 to the cause earlier this year, a move we support. Dickinson County contributed $1,000 in July.

Other municipalities, mindful that the battle Escanaba is fighting will have a far-reaching impact, should consider the same.

The hearing is in January so there’s still time. We hope others will step up.